Make self-care work for you with advice from the CAC and counselling services
Being a student can be stressful, and exam season certainly doesn’t help the situation.
Forty per cent of Canadian students experience “high stress” levels during exams period, according to a 2005 study by global market research company, Ipsos.
In fact, zero per cent of students reported having no stress at all.
One of the easiest ways was to reduce stress and remain on top of your game is through self-care. Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s mental or physical health.
“I think a lot of people define self-care as just ‘treating yourself’ and it can be a lot more than that,” said Sarah Alvo, a part-time disability support staff member at the Community Action Centre (CAC).
In the recent years, self-care has gained popularity in post-secondary institutions.
Alvo also said that midterms provide a lot of additional stress outside of of one’s regular routine and this is where self-care can play a part.
Self-care workshops like Mental Wellness Week at George Brown College (GBC) are a staple for students, but how does self-care actually improve our mental health?
Additionally, what self-care tactics can students employ to manage their stress and anxiety during exams season?
“Having a regular self-care routine helps you to be able to bounce back and be resilient during those situations,” said Tenniel Rock, manager of counselling and student well-being at GBC. “So it’s actually incredibly helpful.”
Both Alvo and Rock agreed that students should be focusing on sleep.
Alvo said that if she personally hasn’t slept well, it throws off her mood, and her memory, energy levels, motivation, ability to get along with others decreases.
“Having even a half-decent night’s sleep makes a huge difference in every other aspect of life,” she added.
Rock mentioned that there is a sleep epidemic among young adults.
She said that making sure one gets between seven to eight hours of sleep is essential for memorization and concentration.
Another form of self-care the duo endorsed was simply taking a break; especially during exams, a time when students tend to experience stresses from different aspects of their lives.
“Sometimes we just literally can’t deal in that moment,” Alvo said, adding that removing oneself from the situation is the healthier solution as it allows one to focus on the most important issue in that moment.
Rock said that stretching up into the air, bending at the waist, and then letting one’s whole top half of their body hang is a great way to take a break during studying.
“Just doing that for a few minutes is a great self-care routine,” she said.
However, there are times when one should not rely solely on self-care.
“I think if you ever have question in your mind like ‘I wonder if I need to go to a counsellor?’ that’s always a good reason to go,” said Alvo.
Rock added that if an individual is having suicidal thoughts, or struggles with reasons for living on a daily basis, that is an indication that a student is in crisis and should see a counsellor.
Students who have trouble regulating their emotions can benefit from counselling as it can be used to prevent a crisis before it happens, according to Rock.
For students wishing to access self-care and mental health resources on campus, Alvo recommends the CAC, counselling services, academic accommodations and the gym.